December 2, 2020 at 12:38 am PST | by Brody Levesque
Worst week of pandemic yet in LA County- Newsom warns he may reinstate a stay-at-home order
Doctors and nurses care for COVID-19 patients in the ICU and Emergency Department at LACUSC Medical Center (Photo credit: Los Angeles County)

LOS ANGELES – Los Angeles County public health officials say that the one day rise in coronavirus cases confirms the worst fears of officials that the pandemic’s serious spiral into levels recorded Tuesday, are indicative that circumstances are rapidly approaching a place where containment may not be possible unless drastic measures are taken.

“Today, Tuesday, December 1, 2020, is the worst day thus far of the COVID-19 pandemic in Los Angeles County,” Dr. Barbara Ferrer, Director of Public Health said. “However, it will likely not remain the worst day of the pandemic in Los Angeles County. That will be tomorrow, and the next day and the next as cases, hospitalizations and deaths increase,” she added.

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health announced the highest number of new COVID-19 cases and people hospitalized with COVID-19 that L.A. County has ever experienced throughout the pandemic.

The department has confirmed 46 new deaths and 7,593 new cases of COVID-19. The number of new COVID-19 cases significantly surpassed the previous high of 6,124 new cases seen last week, and signals that the virus is infecting more people at a faster rate than ever seen in L.A. County before. The daily test positivity rate today is almost 12%, up from 7% one week ago.

The County surpassed 400,000 cumulative coronavirus cases Monday as it broke a record for COVID-19 hospitalizations.

“Every resident and every business needs to take immediate action if we are to dampen this alarming surge. We are in the middle of an accelerating surge in a pandemic of huge magnitude,“ Ferrer warned. “This is not the time to skirt or debate the safety measures that protect us because we need every single person to use every tool available to stop the surge and save lives.”

There are 2,316 people with COVID-19 currently hospitalized and 24% of these people are in the ICU. This exceeds the peak of 2,232 people hospitalized with COVID-19 during the July surge. The daily number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 has increased nearly every day since November 1 when the daily number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 was 799.

Speaking to reporters during his regularly scheduled weekly remote press conference, California Governor Gavin Newsom warned that as California starts to see record numbers of coronavirus cases and overwhelmed hospitals, he may need to reinstate a stay-at-home order. The Governor last week ordered a 10 pm to 6 am curfew in cities and counties that were experiencing surging new cases and increased hospitalizations.

Currently, 51 of 58 counties are in the “purple” tier of the state’s COVID-19 system, meaning they are under the strictest restrictions. Those counties also account for most of the state’s population.

“If these trends continue, we’re going to have to take much more dramatic, arguably drastic, action,” Newsom said. “Current projections show hospitalizations could increase two to three times the current amount in one month.”

According to projections by the California Department of Health made public during the Governor’s press conference, overall the state is expected to be at 112 percent hospital bed capacity by December 24 without stronger measures by officials to intervene.

A spokesperson told the Blade Tuesday that officials will determine whether to reimpose a stay-at-home order for the counties worst hit in the next day or two which would include Los Angeles, Orange, San Diego, and Ventura.

Newsom also announced Monday assistance for small businesses suffering financially because of COVID-19 restrictions and lower sales.

Items included an automatic three-month extension for those reporting less than $1 million in sales tax; interest-free payments for companies with up to $5 million in sales tax; and $500 million in grants of up to $25,000 each available to small businesses.

“California’s small businesses embody the best of the California Dream and we can’t let this pandemic take that away,” Newsom told reporters.

“We have to lead with health to reopen our economy safely and sustainably while doing all we can to keep our small businesses afloat. With this financial assistance and tax relief, California is stepping up where the federal government isn’t. By providing potentially billions in immediate relief and support, our small businesses can weather the next month as we continue partnering with the Legislature to secure additional funding and investments in small businesses in the new year.”

In Los Angeles County, ‘The Keep Los Angeles County Dining Grant Program’ started this week to assist restaurants that have lost business due to coronavirus health regulations.

Eligible eateries — excluding those in the cities of Los Angeles and Pasadena — can receive up to $30,000 in assistance for employee payroll, capital to continue operations, payment of outstanding business expenses and adaptive business practices needed to remain open.

A total of roughly $5.6 million is available, split among the county’s five supervisorial districts.

“This pandemic and the recent closure of outdoor dining has been devastating to our restaurants and restaurant workers,” LA County Supervisor Janice Hahn said in a statement. “These grants are meant to help as many restaurants as possible make ends meet and make it through this crisis. We know it won’t be enough. We need another federal stimulus package to get a lifeline to all of our businesses and workers that are struggling.”

Additional program information is available at keeplacountydining.lacda.org or by calling 626-943-3833.

© Copyright Los Angeles Blade, LLC. 2021. All rights reserved.